A Baptism of Tears

By Michael Brown Published on July 2, 2024

As much as anything else in this world, God wants us to share His heart. We are often hungry for His power, but seldom aware of His pain. We are eager to experience His goodness, but think little of His grief. “Our Lord still agonizes for souls,” said the late missionary John Hyde.

This must be a foundation of our lives. Jesus bears our burdens. Can we bear His as well?

Most of us are hardened to the needs of our suffering race. We are rarely touched by its cry. But this world is filled with death — every second there is a sigh. Pain and sickness, tragedy and despair — God’s creation is wasting away. Does our Father turn a deaf ear?

A Growing Cry in the Earth

Richard Wurmbrand, author of Tortured for Christ and perhaps the best-known Christian prisoner of the twentieth century, shared this moving story:

A prisoner in a Romanian underground solitary cell was horrified at the cries of those tortured around him. He begged God for a little respite in heaven: “Take me there at least for a little while.” Happily, he began to soar higher and higher, hoping soon to hear angelic music.

But the closer he came to heaven, the louder became the cries of suffering. When he reached his goal it had become unbearable. He asked God, “Is heaven not a place of serenity?”

He was told, “You seem never to have been attentive to what you read. It is written that the cries of oppressed slaves came up to Me, and I heard them (Exodus 2:23,24). The blood of Abel cries out to Me (Genesis 4:15).”

“Those with Me in heaven also hear this cry and that of all the innocents who are slain. In your cell you hear the groanings of only a few. In heaven we hear the weeping of all who suffer.

“Jesus represented Me by becoming a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Read again about Rachel, who wept when children were killed in Bethlehem. Saints here weep with all who weep.”

Crying with the Lord

Can we hear the heart of this story without arguing about its theology?

In the Beatitudes, Jesus taught us to be like Him. That is the place of blessedness. If we share His nature, we will be poor in spirit and pure of heart, meek as well as merciful. We will be peacemakers, and we will be persecuted. We will be hungry and thirsty for righteousness. And we will mourn. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:21).

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There is a time for joy and there is a time for laughter. But there is also a time for mourning, and there is a time for weeping, too. Our contemporary church needs to learn how to weep!

“One of the things we need is a baptism of tears. A baptism of tears for the lethargic state of our life, and the curse our souls have tolerated. My how the church needs to confess! . . . Think of Jesus Christ coming to the world after these hundreds of years and finding the church asleep and the people dying in the toils of suffering!” said John G. Lake. How we need a sensitive heart!

Tear-Soaked Scriptures

We speak of our relationship with the Lord. But relationship means sharing. Relationship means sharing one heart with another. Relationship means mutual joy. And relationship means mutual pain. Do we have a relationship with the Lord?

“He who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). This was the agony of the prophets. They carried the burden of God. And they participated in the pain of their people.

“Streams of tears flow from my eyes for Your law is not obeyed” (Psalm 119:136).

“Turn away from me, let me weep bitterly. Do not try and console me over the destruction of my people” (Isaiah 22:4).

“Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! . . . Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn and horror grips me. . . . Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jeremiah 4:19, 8:21, 9:1).

“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race” (Romans 9:2-3).

God’s Pain

Does the Son of God hurt any less?

As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it . . . O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. (Luke 19:41; Matthew 23:37)

The baptism of tears is a baptism into the suffering of the Lord. It is a participation in His afflictions. As He was – and is – rejected, we are rejected. As He was – and is – despised, we too are despised. And as His heart was – and is – broken, ours is broken as well.

There is great intimacy in sharing His heart. This was the apostle’s desire: “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death” (Philippians 3:10). There is no higher calling than that.


(Excerpted and adapted from Michael L. Brown, How Saved Are We? [Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 1990].)


Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He is the author of more than 40 books, including Can You be Gay and Christian?Our Hands Are Stained With Blood; and Seize the Moment: How to Fuel the Fires of Revival. You can connect with him on FacebookX, or YouTube.

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